Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Sunday, June 15, 2003

Tantek Celik worked on the rendering engine for IE for the Mac (he's still a Microsoft employee, as far as I know), and he has links to lots of people who have comments about Friday's announcement.

You know how everyone talks about Microsoft BSOD's (Blue Screen Of Death, or what happens when your system completely crashes)? I was standing next to Lenn Pryor when his Nokia cell phone got a "Symbian Screen of Death."

We had five geeks sitting around trying to figure out what to do about his cell phone. It was locked up and nothing we did would fix it. I'll find out tomorrow how he resolved it.

I just listened to DotNet Rocks, done by Carl Frankin, audio interview with Chris Sells. Here's another example of a "good customer." Carl does DotNet Rocks on his own time without getting a dime from Microsoft. You seeing a theme here? Yeah, I'm keeping track of who our best community members are. You can bet I'm pointing these guys out to our execs. And, I certainly want to help them make their businesses, like Carl Franklin's VB Master Class training program, stronger.

The other question I have is: why aren't these folks working as full-time Microsoft employees? Do you realize Microsoft has more than a few jobs open? I'm looking for good people to recommend to management as employees. (Yeah, I get a kickback for some jobs, but not all).

Ahh, I see Evan Williams, over at Google, is hiring too.

Oh, the C# vs. VB language wars are over, huh? Does it really matter? Yeah, I know Visual Studio Magazine is saying that C#'ers make more money. I do have to admit that most Microsoft'ers do seem partial to C#, but, most say it doesn't really matter and that future versions of .NET have even more features for VB'ers. So, will the war really end? No. Does it matter? No. Use the best tool for the job. Or, use whatever makes you happy. Yes, I'm still learning C#. I'm on chapter three. I gotta spend more time on that, but then, I'd have to weblog less. Hmmm.

Joshua Allen engages in an argument over "is" or "are." I say that you should write "MSFT is" because "MSFT is an 'it'" and it makes more sense to say "it is" than "it are."

Of course, if you try to make it an argument of whether or not MSFT is an "it" or a "they" then the argument could go his way. But, my journalism instructors always taught me that companies are single entities. There's only one Microsoft. So, it's an it.

Exception, is if you make it clear you're talking about MSFT's employees. We're definitely a "they." So, MSFT Webloggers are. But, MSFT is. Get it? Good.

Thomas Warfield's "A Shareware Life weblog" points at "How to Become a Marketing Superstar" and then engages in a discussion of "Good Customers vs. Bad."

I was thinking about just this today. I was asking myself? How can Microsoft get more customers like Mike Amundsen, Scott Watermasysk, or Drew Robbins. These folks have built a great community around our products. Mike built Erablogs and helped with the TechED Weblogs. Drew built TechED Weblogs. Scott built the Dotnet weblogs. What's even better is that they did it without asking. Without getting a buck. Without wanting one. What's their motives? What drives all webloggers to share information?

My question tonight is: how do we encourage more community efforts like this without squashing the motivation? My first step? Listen to them and try to meet their needs and stay out of their way -- I'm meeting with Mike and Drew this week. Scott's on the radar too.

Nicole: "If someone wanted to parody me, it would be really simple: blah blah blah blah, fundies suck, blah blah blah blah, George sucks, blah blah blah blah. Yeah, I tend to ramble! *griN*"

Adam Barr: "The problem with Outlook is it stores its data in a proprietary format, officially known only to Microsoft."

Shhh, don't tell anyone in the Office group, but this is EXACTLY why I like NewsGator. See, yeah, my .PST files can only be shared with folks who already have Windows and have Outlook loaded. But, NewsGator lets me publish data FROM INSIDE Outlook. This lets me share my knowledge with anyone who has a Web browser.

Products like NewsGator make lockin a lot less scary for everyone. Well, except for the IT department at Microsoft, who might not exactly like that I'm able to publish to the Web from within Outlook. Hmm.

I should point out that the Microsoft Download feed is done by ThunderMain Ltd., and not by Microsoft itself. Still, is a valuable resource.

Hey folks who use Microsoft products: point your RSS News Aggregators at the Microsoft Download RSS Feed. Thanks Susan Bradley for linking me to this.

I linked to the Halo 2 demo video a while back, but it's so awesome I thought I'd link to it again. Too bad we won't get this for a while either.

Richard McManus, author of the "Two-Way Web weblog," takes on the topic of the Universal Canvas.

BBC: Technology analyst Bill Thompson wonders who would trust an anti-virus product from Microsoft?

To me, it's important for Microsoft to do this, just to increase the trust in Windows/Microsoft itself. It's only a piece of what needs to be improved in the software ecosystem to protect Windows users from viruses, though. I note that Microsoft is dramatically reducing the footprint where virus writers can attack the OS. And, there are other things being done across all of Microsoft's software to decrease the chances that viruses will be able to successfully attack.

Heh, Elizabeth Grigg so wanted to be included in the weblogger parody that she wrote her own "mean-spirited toward herself" entry. Now, that's the spirit!

Rob Fahrni, who works in the Visio division of Microsoft, says "Obviously we're not doing our job if you're working that many hours per day." My answer: who said I was working?

My computer usage isn't all work. I talk with my friends on IM. I watch training videos on it. I play video games on it. I edit my photos and email those around. I weblog. And I do a lot more. So do most of my compadres at Microsoft.

The problem is that the computer not only allows me to do my job, but it also lets me have fun, meet people, share my life with them, and much more. It's even weirder now. I'm setting my son up with IP-based videoconferencing so I can see him. This greatly improves our lives. It +is+ our life. And, it all runs on Windows. So, that's what I mean when I say I use the computer for 12-14 hours a day. Hey, I only sleep eight hours. So, what happens to the other two to four hours a day? That's for Maryam to know and you to find out. :-)

Dave Winer says that Outlook (or email systems) isn't where he wants his RSS feeds to go.

First of all, Outlook is far beyond just email now (Dave uses Outlook Express, and doesn't have access to a corporate information system where Outlook is used -- Outlook, when combined with an Exchange Server, is far deeper than just Outlook Express).

When I fly back to Silicon Valley (and when I used to ride the train in Silicon Valley) I'd look at computer screens to see what people use. More than 80% of the screens have Outlook on them. I believe that Outlook is the most-used app on personal computers. I think second place isn't even close. Here at Microsoft, I think the usage is even higher. One of the first things new employees have to get used to is the Outlook culture here (everything, and I mean everything, is scheduled on Outlook or sent via email. I even bought some Mariner's tickets the other day via one of the corporate mailing lists).

Anyway, I use Outlook as my entire operating system. Seriously. It makes backing up my important files much easier than looking for a hierarchical tree inside my C: drive somewhere. Just back up one or two .PST files, and away we go (I drag any important file into Outlook at the end of my workday so that it's automatically synchronized between my two computers -- and also so I can get into it via the Outlook Web Access, so if I need to get into my "operating system" from a public library or at the airport, I can). OK, I have 12GB worth of photos that I don't store inside Outlook, but I might even move those into Outlook soon (especially now that Outlook 2003 gets rid of a bug that kept it from storing more than 2GB worth of data -- by the way, if you're using "shipping" versions of Outlook, I recommend not letting any one .PST file get bigger than about 500MB).

Outlook is my knowledge base. In fact, when I left NEC, what did I hand my boss? Two CDs with my .PST files on them. They contained every bit of knowledge I generated at NEC. I told my boss to get a search tool like find, which would let him look at all my 15,000 email messages, and all the documents I stored for him.

Anyway, to get to the point, I'm playing with five RSS News Aggregators. I'll write a review soon. The upcoming FeedDemon (standalone Windows app), Sharp Reader (standalone Windows app), NewsGator (which runs in Outlook), Radio UserLand (runs on Windows or Mac), and RSS Bandit (standalone Windows app).

They all have their advantages. I do have to admit, I'm getting most used to NewsGator since it runs in Outlook. This means I can post to my blog without leaving Outlook. I greatly prefer reading RSS feeds there to reading them in the browser.

Dave asks what makes that different than email? Very easy: no spam.

Email's signal-to-noise ratio sucks.

Oh, also, email is hard to post to a public site (yeah, I know, with Radio UserLand, I can do it). But, with NewsGator, I can read a news post, then post it myself to my weblog. Very cool. I'm just starting to play with this internally at Microsoft.

But, I do agree with Dave that Radio UserLand's news aggregator is nice. I have 300 news sources fed into mine.

Speaking of .NET, if you're an ASP kinda developer, you should check out the new Web Matrix tool that was just released.

Chris Pirillo points us at a blog tool comparision site, but one thing I noticed right away. None of the blogs that run on top of .NET are mentioned. Is this part of the blogging world? Just ignore anything that runs on top of a Microsoft platform? Hey, what about Mike Amundsen's weblogs over at How about the DotNet Weblogs done by Scott W?

Oh, and Chris, you really must lay off of the Peets.

Dan Appleman has written another eBook, this time called "Hijacking .NET." I've known Dan ever since he wrote his first API book and he's a master at figuring out APIs and showing you how to do unusual things with them. I like that he's also exploring new publishing systems. He co-founded APress Books with Gary Cornell, but instead of killing more trees, he's found a way to electronically publish his content, which decreases his time to market and increases his profit margin. Maybe his book should be called "Hijacking the Book Industry." Anyway, it's getting mentioned here and there as a highly recommended tome, so check it out.

(For unusual Visual Basic trivia, ask Dan what name, other than his, was on the cover of his first API book, but who didn't write a bit of content inside the book).

I'm back online. My wife and I had a great weekend together. Things are happy once again in the Scoble household. You know it's weird when your wife wants to go to Home Depot. My wife is the best.

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 2:36:02 AM.